Monday, 20 September 2021

Internet users fuming after three-day outage

RESIDENTS in Henley have demanded compensation after having no internet connection for almost three days.

RESIDENTS in Henley have demanded compensation after having no internet connection for almost three days.

Sky Broadband and Talk customers were without coverage between Tuesday lunchtime and Thursday evening last week. The problem, which is believed to have been caused by technical problems at the BT exchange in Greys Road, returned on Friday afternoon for several hours.Customers in Shiplake were also affected.

Many people who worked at home were disrupted from carrying out their jobs but Sky says it will not provide refunds for business users.

Mike Quinn, 46, of Harpsden Road, said the delay in getting back online was “despicable”. He works from home in digital marketing and said he had to work extra hours throughout the weekend to catch up.

“It was just so frustrating because pretty much all business people these days work online,” said Mr Quinn. “All your forms are done online and everything else you work on. To be out of action for the best part of two-and-a-half days is a little bit despicable.

“You can get 4G at the top of Mount Everest but we couldn’t get our broadband back up.”

Mr Quinn’s work is almost solely based on the internet because he helps companies to make their websites more efficient.

“It was a show stopper for me, really,” he said. “I had to use 3G, which was slow and expensive. I spent most of the time offline and then went back on through the day. If you look around this area almost everyone is in IT and for those who work from home it stops them from working.”

Mr Quinn, who lives with his wife Rebecca and their two children, said personal lives were also disrupted.

He said: “I feel for other people who might have wanted to watch TV content online but BBC iPlayer wasn’t working. Rebecca was unable to Skype her family in Australia, which she does every day.”

Mr Quinn, whose landline was also down, messaged Sky on Twitter asking if he will be be given a refund but there was no reply. He said he was also considering making a formal compensation claim.

He said: “They are quick enough to rake your money from subscriptions but we have had a lack of service. We’re definitely due a rebate.”

Many residents in Albert Road and Greys Road, where the BT exchange is, were affected. A father-of-two, who asked not to be named, needs the internet to correspond with a script editor from home in his job as a television script writer.

The 39-year-old, of Albert Road, said he initially phoned Sky on Tuesday and an automated message said the company was aware of the issue and it would be resolved within four hours. When the problem still had not been dealt with by the following day he spoke to a customer service representative, who said an engineer was going to the exchange to fix a part.

He received a text message later that day saying the problem had been resolved — but it hadn’t. When he called again on Thursday at 8am he was told a meeting was being arranged for 5pm to “discuss” the issue.

He said: “I spoke to a couple of people who were very apologetic but said it was out of their hands.

“When I was told there was going to be a meeting I found that astounding. I couldn’t believe that nothing was going to be done all day and they were just going to have a meeting. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t send another engineer or someone who had specialist knowledge about it.”

He said he had experienced problems in the past with his Sky broadband service.

“This time it’s very frustrating because I work from home and I can’t work properly if I haven’t got internet,” he said. “I had to use my mobile phone but it’s quite time-consuming. I can check emails but it’s very fiddly so it’s not ideal.

“It makes you realise how much you depend on the internet when you haven’t got it.”

He said Sky offered to reduce his line rental tariff and said he wouldn’t be charged for the days he was without service.

He added: “I told them that’s the least thing I would expect and I wanted more than that.

“One person I spoke to said they would look at reducing the line rental for the next few months but as Sky is more expensive than other providers that’s not overly generous.

“I can’t believe that one of the world’s biggest media organisations can let its customers go for three days without internet. It seems pretty abysmal to me.”

Nick Mead, 36, who lives in the same street, said he had a “massive row” with Sky, which claimed the problem was the responsibility of a third party supplier.

He said there was a power cut when he came home on Tuesday and the lack of internet connection meant he was also prevented from working from home. He followed the updates on Sky’s website using 3G on his iPhone but said there was no update between Wednesday and Thursday.

He said: “I called them on Thursday and told them I was pretty upset they had failed to update their systems in 24 hours and weren’t telling anyone anything.

“Sky said it is going to refund people for the days it was out of service but the principle is we pay for the service and expect it to be working.

“The internet is pretty vital — I need it for emails. Nowadays you need technology the whole time.”

Dorothy Owens, 36, of Mount View, said this was at least the fifth time she had experienced problems with Sky and said the constant problems had made her “very, very angry”.

She said: “I’m not very happy at all. All they would offer me was compensation for the loss of service for the amount of time it was down.”

Mrs Owens is trying to set up a company selling eyelash extensions and jewellery on eBay and said the lack of internet had severely disrupted her business.

Most British Telecom customers, which included a number of businesses in Henley, were not affected by the internet outage.

A spokesman for Sky said: “The outage arose due to one of the circuits in our local exchange going down, affecting a small number of customers. The source of this technical problem is still unclear, however we had Sky and Openreach engineers, as well as representatives from a number of our suppliers, working overnight to get this resolved. We had rebuilt and activated the affected circuit in the exchange by Thursday evening, however we did encounter another shorter outage on Friday.

“A back-up telephone system was operational, meaning that 999 calls could still be made. If customers have any queries about their account or billing in light of this incident we would encourage them to contact our customer service team on 08442 411 653.”

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